First TAVR procedure performed at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital
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First TAVR procedure performed at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP – Doctors performed the first two catheter-based replacements of an aortic heart valve this week at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, part of a continued expansion of the nationally recognized transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) program of Henry Ford Health System.

“This minimally invasive, revolutionary procedure to replace a defective heart valve without open-heart surgery brings new hope for people with advanced heart disease,” said interventional cardiologist Samer Kazziha, M.D., Chief of Cardiovascular Services for Henry Ford Macomb Hospital.

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TAVR was an excellent option for both Christine Gilbert, an 87-year-old woman from Mt. Clemens, and Carole Wesner, an 82-year-old Shelby Township resident. Both women were diagnosed with aortic stenosis and underwent the TAVR procedure on August 7. Both patients were released from the hospital on August 8 and are recovering comfortably at home.

“TAVR is easier on the patient, allows for quicker recovery and, ultimately, can improve the patient’s quality of life,” said Raed Alnajjar, M.D, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital’s Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery Services. “We’re pleased to now offer this option close to home for our patients in Macomb County and surrounding areas.”

Ms. Gilbert has come a long way since she first visited an urgent care in May, for what she thought was indigestion. An EKG showed that she was having a heart attack and she had a stent put in that day, followed by balloon valvuloplasty in June.

“My shortness of breath is gone, I feel less tired and I’m able to climb stairs without feeling winded,” said Ms. Gilbert, a retired MISD bus driver, just one day after the TAVR procedure. She is anxious to get back to quilting, treasure hunting at garage sales, tending her flower garden and walking her dog.

Ms. Wesner said she also noticed immediate improvement after her procedure at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, and she hopes to resume yoga, walking and meeting up with her friends for breakfast soon.

“I had an easier time walking this morning and I don’t get the ‘fluttery’ feeling in my chest that I did before the procedure,” she said about 24 hours after her TAVR. “It has been really awesome. Every single person is so caring, professional and gifted.”

Home to pioneering cardiologist William O’Neill, M.D., who performed the first TAVR in the United States in 2005, the Henry Ford Center for Structural Heart Disease has performed more than 1500 TAVR procedures since 2012. The expansion into Macomb County follows the opening of the Center’s TAVR program at Henry Ford Allegiance Hospital in Jackson, Mich., in June. Specially trained, multi-disciplinary teams that include expert anesthesiologists, cardiac imaging specialists and support staff have been training for months to prepare.
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